Coughing is serious enough to make people unfit for work or take days off work due to illness. It’s usually not a very serious health issue, especially when you take action early. Fortunately, you can speed up recovery with some really good essential oils for cough and phlegm relief.
In this post, you’ll be reading about:
- The way essential oils can help you get rid of a coughing fit. Their action mechanism may help you understand how recovery happens.
- The pros and cons of some of the best proven essential oils for chest congestion, colds, mucus in the lungs, etc. Read them carefully. You’ll want to enjoy only their benefits, without any possible side effects.
- How to use these aromatic remedies safely.
- Recipes to try right away to soothe your cough and relieve that phlegm.
- Types of coughs. Knowing the cause and type of your coughing fit can help you find the right remedy solution.
- Causes and symptoms of these cough types, so you can better recognize them.
- Tips to prevent upper respiratory infections thus coughs as well.
- General safety tips for a safe use of essential oils to stop coughing.
Best Essential Oils for Cough and Phlegm (Pros & Cons), How to Use, and Recipes
Coughs are very common. It’s one of the most common causes for patient visits to the doctor. Statistics say that about 10 – 33% of the annual general consultations are due to coughs.
There can be many causes for which you could suffer from a coughing fit. Nonetheless, more than half of the diagnosed cases are caused by infections.
The upper respiratory tract can get infected with various viruses (influenza or cold viruses, etc.). Acute bronchitis is another common cause of a cough.
The impact of this illness on the patient’s life and economy, in general, is quite big. Therefore, treatment is mandatory. On top of that, the treatment must also speed up recovery to the maximum.
How Can Essential Oils Help You Stop Coughing
The conventional treatment of a cough is usually focused on relieving the symptoms.
Since there are many types of coughs, it’s very important to know the exact cause. Sometimes, even doctors can have trouble finding it.
A cough that comes with a cold, the flu or bronchitis/sinusitis infection usually goes away on its own.
Doctors are no longer advised to prescribe antibiotics to their coughing patients. The main reason is that, if it’s an infection, it’s usually a viral one.
Viruses don’t respond to antibiotics. Thus, taking antibiotics can only disrupt the balance of your intestinal flora. This, in turn, causes other separate problems.
So, the patient is left with OTC medicines that relieve the discomfort.
Luckily, Aromatherapy oils are very potent and proven effective natural remedies. They are plant extracts with the following properties:
- Anti-inflammatory. This helps to decrease the inflammation caused by an infection.
- Antibacterial and antiviral, to kill bacteria and viruses that cause infections. They can also deal with irritants on the respiratory tract.
- Analgesic (pain-relieving). Oftentimes, pain is one of the main symptoms of a cough and congestion or infection. Many essential oils for colds and coughs can relieve that pain.
- Anti-stress and anxiety. Not only your mind but your body can also be under a lot of stress while battling pathogens. Anti-anxiety effects calm down the nervous system and the heart rate. This leads to a better sleep at night too.
- Antitussive. Some natural substances can actually decrease the frequency of coughing fits.
- Expectorants. If an essential oil for cough and phlegm has this ability, that’s great. It means it can promote the elimination of all mucus and improve breathing.
- Antihistamines. This effect is very helpful if there are allergic reactions present. Some allergic symptoms look very much like a cold. Antihistamines can bring relief from nasal congestion and itching. They can also help with watery eyes and sneeze among others.
- Stimulant. This property can strengthen the immune system and help to speed up the recovery.
- Circulatory, to improve the blood flow in the body. More blood delivers more nutrients and oxygen to the tissue and brain.
When it comes to soothing all kinds of coughs and phlegm, colds, and congestion symptoms, the best essential oils can:
- Help you sleep better so that your body can focus on eliminating pathogens or irritants.
- Strengthen your immune system, so that your body can once again recover easier.
- Relieve tension and aches in the muscles. When you cough, your abdominal and chest muscles tense to expel the irritant.
- Relieve headaches and migraines, especially those caused by tension.
- Clear your airways and improve breathing.
- Essential oils for cough can also disinfect the surfaces you touched. This way, you can prevent giving an infection to others too.
That said, it’s time we saw which essential oils are best for a cough. The bottom line is that they are quite many, but I chose only the best three of them. Let’s see their pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision.
1) Tarragon Essential Oil
Botanical name: Artemisia dracunculus.
- Tarragon oil is great for coughing fits. It has some very good antispasmodic properties. This means it can prevent and calm involuntary muscle contractions. As a consequence, you can cough less and less. Its action is direct, meaning it goes straight to the muscle nerves.
- The oil is also analgesic and antinociceptive. The latter activity refers to the fact that it diminishes the sensation of pain.
- Tarragon essential oil is also a very good antibacterial. In a lab test, researchers observed that the oil has anti-germination activity. This means that Tarragon oil can prevent the growth and spread of pathogens.
- On top of these benefits, this essential oil for a cough has antihistamine activity. It means that Tarragon has very good anti-inflammatory effects. If your symptoms are caused by an allergic reaction, you can soothe them with Tarragon.
- The oil of Tarragon should not be used with anticoagulant medicines.
- The oil can cause some toxicity to the liver and kidneys. Thus, its use must last only a short period of time (5 – 7 days).
Why I like it:
The oil of Tarragon can also improve digestion and mood because its scent is uplifting. This is among the best essential oils for chest congestion and a dry cough.
2) Peppermint Essential Oil
Botanical name: Mentha piperita.
- Peppermint is one of the best essential oils for cough and phlegm relief. It’s very rich in menthol, and studies prove its beneficial effects. Menthol was found to have a strong antitussive activity. This means that after inhaling Peppermint, you’ll feel the need to cough less and less.
- Peppermint is among the best essential oils for a cold and a chest congestion. It can decrease fever and relieve pain.
- The oil can also kill pathogens that cause respiratory infections.
- It is a good expectorant, being able to clear the airways effectively.
- Peppermint is a good stimulant and can strengthen the immune system.
- It’s anti-inflammatory and a great antiviral too.
- Peppermint may trigger seizures.
- It also has estrogen-like effects. This means that it could interact with and affect the activity of hormone-dependent treatments.
- Avoid using it over long periods of time. Peppermint can become toxic to the liver and kidneys.
- The oil should not be used in case of kidney and liver problems. It should also be avoided in case of heart problems and high blood pressure.
Why I like it:
Peppermint essential oil can be used to stop a cough and to recover from colds faster. It is also a great digestive oil that can increase the production of bile. You can use Peppermint for hair growth, skin care, and even home-cleaning.
3) Green Myrtle Essential Oil
Botanical name: Myrtus communis.
- Green Myrtle oil is ideal to use to calm down the throat and respiratory tract. The oil has great expectorant properties, which help to relieve phlegm and mucus. This ability makes Green Myrtle oil great for chronic or acute bronchitis.
- It is a calming oil that soothes the irritated respiratory tract.
- It can improve circulation and decongest the veins and airways.
- Green Myrtle is also antiviral and antibacterial.
- Studies show that the oil has good antioxidant properties. They make it useful at fighting free radicals damage and speeding up recovery.
- The oil of Myrtle can induce sleep. It does not have a hypnotic effect but it can calm down the nervous system.
- People with asthma and epilepsy should not use Green Myrtle oil.
- A prolonged use of high amounts of Green Myrtle can be toxic to the kidneys.
- The oil is thought to be cortisone-like. Thus, it may interact with hormone-dependent treatments.
Why I like it:
Green Myrtle essential oil for cough is uplifting and energizing. It’s easy to find and use, and its properties are very useful in treating colds and coughs.
Other very good essential oils for cough and phlegm relief:
- Lemon Eucalyptus
- Roman Chamomile
- Eucalyptus radiata
- Rosemary ct. Camphor
- Tea Tree
- Clary Sage
- Black Spruce
- Clove bud
What about Frankincense essential oil for a cough? Well, the oil of Frankincense is best for skin care. But it also has very good anti-inflammatory properties.
This activity may help to decrease the inflammation and pain in your throat or sinuses. However, I would pick other oils that are better for colds and coughs.
How to Use Essential Oils for a Cough
Luckily, you have plenty of ways to use these aromatic oils. It all depends on preferences, possibilities, and needs.
The best method to enjoy as much of the active oil molecules as possible is by inhalation.
Inhalation can be done:
- Directly from the bottle.
- From a cotton pad.
- A steam bath (a drop of essence into a steaming bowl of water).
- A hot bath (essential oils mixed with salt and added to the hot bathwater).
- In an essential oil diffuser.
Diffusing Aromatherapy oils with special devices has many benefits. These devices can break down the oil molecules and disperse a large amount into the air.
The air you’ll inhale will be filled with these active molecules. They will get to the brain and into your system in a matter of seconds.
Air diffusion can purify the air and prevent many viral infections. It can also change the smell in a room. Diffusion must be done in well-ventilated places, away from pets and children.
You should also avoid sleeping with the diffuser on. Essential oils may saturate the air and cause nausea and headaches among others.
Read more about it here:
What essential oils to diffuse for a bad cough? You can diffuse pretty much any aromatic oil you like or need. If the essence is too concentrated or irritant, you can mix it with another essential oil.
Essential oils to diffuse for colds and cough symptoms are:
- Tea Tree
- Roman Chamomile
- German Chamomile
The best essential oils to diffuse for colds are great for a cough and phlegm too. Their properties can relieve the pain, inflammation, and kill the pathogens.
What essential oil is good for your cough depends only on your symptoms. Check out the last part to see which type of a cough you have.
You can also make your own nasal inhaler with essential oils for cough and congestion.
You’ll need an empty plastic inhaler, with a cotton wick. The wick can be soaked into essential oils and the scent will preserve better with the cap on.
Another very good method of getting natural relief is through skin application.
This method is a more localized and concentrated way of delivering the oils to the site. You can apply small amounts of a blend to the affected areas every few hours.
Mix 3 – 6 drops of essential oil for cough with an ounce of a carrier oil. Shake it well before each application.
Essential Oil Recipes to Stop Coughing
As usual, after theory comes practice! Check out the following therapeutic recipes and choose the one you need most.
You can use up to 5 essential oils per blend. This means that even one single essence can help you feel better. More than two usually make a more potent blend.
Essential Oil Diffuser Recipe for Colds and Cough
- Green Myrtle essential oil: 20 drops
- Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil: 10 drops
- Peppermint essential oil: 20 drops
Mix these oils together and keep them in a dark colored glass bottle. Use a few drops only, each time you turn the diffuser on.
Essential Oils Recipe for Kids’ Cough (2+ years)
- Tea Tree essential oil: 1 drop
- Lavender essential oil: 1 drop
- Roman Chamomile essential oil: 1 drop
- Sweet Almond oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Shake the blend well and apply on the chest and back of the child. If he suffers from other illnesses, ask for the doctor’s permission first.
Children are very sensitive to active substances like essential oils. Some of them can cause them serious health complications. Check out this article on how to deal with a baby’s cough.
Essential Oils Recipe to Expel Mucus from Lungs
- Tarragon essential oil: 10 drops
- Peppermint essential oil: 10 drops
- Myrtle essential oil: 10 drops
Diffuse a few drops a day, every 2+ hours, in a well-ventilated room. Keep the diffuser on for 20 minutes and inhale deeply.
Essential Oils Recipe for a Productive Cough
- Cypress essential oil: 3 drops
- Lavender essential oil: 3 drops
- Anise essential oil: 3 drops
- Carrier oil of your choice: 1 Oz (30ml)
Give the blend a good shake and apply a small amount on the chest and around the throat. You can repeat 3 – 4 times a day, for 5 days.
Types of Cough, Causes, Symptoms, and Tips to Prevent Coughing Attacks
A cough can have lots of causes and finding yours can lead to a successful treatment. Because of all these possible causes, there are also many types of coughs.
The most common types of a cough are:
- An acute cough. This cough can last for up to three weeks. The main cause is an infection in the upper respiratory tract. Bronchitis is another cause of an acute cough.
- A subacute cough. This cough type can last anywhere between three and eight weeks. The cause is usually a bacterial or viral infection but there isn’t much research done for this condition. Treatment is almost blind because of a lack of scientific research.
- A chronic cough. This is a persistent type of cough that’s mainly caused by smoking. The irritants must be removed so the respiratory tract and lungs can recover.
There is also a very rare form of a cough called “fatty pneumonia” or a fatty cough. Its medical term is lipoid pneumonia.
Fatty pneumonia used to be a childhood disease. Today, however, it can affect any age category, and especially those who practice folk medicine.
The cause of a fatty cough? There can be two causes:
1) The accumulation of fats from the lung itself,
2) And the aspiration of oily substances like oil laxatives, lip balms, gloss, vaseline, petroleum jelly, etc.
Symptoms of lipoid pneumonia:
- A persistent cough.
- Chest pain.
- Shortness of breath.
- Possible weight loss.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you should go to the doctor immediately. Using essential oils for a cough won’t do much in this case.
Other common causes for a cough may be:
- Sinus infections.
- Some drugs and medications.
An occasional cough is not dangerous. It’s, in fact, useful for the body because that’s its defense mechanism. That’s how it gets rid of pathogens or irritants.
Any type of a cough that persists over a long period of time should be reason enough to go to a doctor.
Tips to Prevent Upper Respiratory Infections
Sometimes, infections simply can’t be avoided. Other times, a few good habits can actually prevent you from becoming ill. Here are a few good ideas to try to add to your daily routine:
- Drink plenty of fluids daily, though, you should not exaggerate. There is such a thing as too much water, which can lead to low blood sodium (hyponatremia).
- Eat nutritious foods to build up a stronger immune system.
- Exercise regularly to maintain your health in good condition.
- If necessary, give up smoking.
- Use your elbow to cough in it instead of the hands. They are a sure way to transmit the virus to others by touch.
- Wash your hands often, especially during the season of colds.
Essential Oils for Cough and Phlegm Relief Safety Tips
Here we are, at the end of the post, and I can’t say goodbye before talking about safety.
Essential oils are good natural remedies, but they can also be toxic. This is true especially for those used incorrectly. Check out these tips to make your choices easier:
- First, it’s very important to always test each new bottle of oil for allergies. Their chemical composition may slightly differ from lot to lot. This is because seasons and geographical areas are two factors that affect the oils’ composition. Thus, you can dilute a drop of essential oil for cough and apply it on the inside of the forearm. If there’s no skin reaction within a few hours – a day, you’re good to use the oil.
- Always dilute your essences before any skin application. Undiluted essential oils may cause sensitization.
- Avoid diffusing or using aromatic oils around pets, children, and elderly. They can be very sensitive. It doesn’t mean you should never do so in their presence. You can diffuse them, but with a lot of caution and medical approval.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women in the first 3 months must also keep away. Or use them after you’ve talked to the doctor.
- Avoid their use if you suffer from any serious illness like diabetes, cancer, etc.
- Some essential oils may interact with certain medications. You should always do your research before using one. Or you can talk to the pharmacist or doctor about it.
- Avoid taking the oils internally as they may cause irritation. Acid reflux and burns on the mucous membranes can also occur.
- Last but not least, essential oils are not a cure for coughs or any other disease. It’s important that you see a doctor as soon as possible, especially if your symptoms aggravate or last a long time.
Now you know what essential oil to use for a cough. It can be Tarragon, Peppermint or Myrtle. Or it can be any of the many spicy, citrus, and herbal oils I gave you earlier.
You can use these essential oils for cough and phlegm relief in a diffuser or topically. These are fast and simple methods, though you still got plenty of other options.
I hope you find a good recipe and give it a try. If you already have one that works, would you share it with us?